The campus trail system grants access to the various ecological sites located within Mount Holyoke’s living lab, and provides students and the larger community with miles of trails for both recreation and learning. Several of the trails feature interpretive sites ranging from Prospect Hill’s historical conversion from parkland to forest, to the water quality and wetland restoration story along the Upper Lake loop.
The most accessible trailhead for the Upper Lake Loop is near the entrance to the Kendall Sports & Dance Complex and the dam and waterfall on Upper Lake, just after crossing Park Street. The loop is approximately one mile long and primarily circles the entire lake. The loop will take you past the lake and its bordering wetlands and some stands of upland hardwood forest. Wetlands along the lake border include marsh, scrubby wetlands, and some small stands of forested wetlands. The loop will also take you past the Restoration Ecology Program’s wetland restoration project, identifiable by the boardwalk and information kiosk. In addition, a vernal pool borders the trail just above MacGregor Hall.
The Stony Brook Trail is also accessible from the Upper Lake Loop.
Two trails run parallel to the eastern side of Stony Brook, forming a loop. These trails can be entered from several locations off of the Upper Lake Loop and from the Long Farm Trail. The lower trail runs near the stream and affords several views. Between the two trails are stands of red maple, hemlock and several other species of trees.
Enter this trail from the opening behind the Equestrian Center. This trail takes you through some forested wetlands, hardwood forest stands, and pine plantations. The Long Farm, a pasture, can be reached by either crossing Stony Brook (not recommended during spring or other times of high water) or, if on foot, by taking the southern part of the trail toward Morgan Street. Where the trail intersects the road, take a left and walk across the bridge above Stony Brook. The pasture will be on your left. Enter the pasture by the area nearest an old barn.
Additionally, one end of the Stony Brook Trail enters from the northwestern part of the Long Farm pasture.
There are several trails winding through the forest covering Prospect Hill. These trails traverse through some mature hardwood forest, mixed conifer and hardwood forest, and hemlock stands.
Carriage Way Trail
The main Carriage Way Trail can be entered at the sign by the guard rail behind Prospect Hall. This path winds up the hill in front of a hemlock and pine stand and then curves around where the trail diverges. At the point where the trail sharply turns, go right to the field behind Mandelle Hall. If you bear left and stay on the main trail you will shortly encounter another split in the trail. Bear right here to stay on the main loop and continue your ascent of Prospect Hill or bear left for a trail that parallels the top of the hemlock stand. The main loop will take you to the crest of Prospect Hill and though some grassy/herbaceous openings and past one of the two town water supply tanks. On either side of the water tank are areas of blowdown (trees toppled during windstorm.) This trail and the trail parallel to the hemlock stand exit in the opening by the Ham Hall parking lot.
The trail is accessible from the Prospect Hall parking lot, beneath the Willits Hallowell center and is marked with a sign. The 1882 Footpath was recently named so after historic maps of campus showed a trail opening near the current Prospect Hall parking lot. The trailhead was located, but the trail itself was found overgrown and hard to follow. Facilities (with the help of several staff members) cleared the trail, opening it to hikers, and now the loop takes visitors through a jaunt of the upper section of Prospect Hill, intersecting with the Carriage Way Trail at several instances.